Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

I was deciding on what to make for a coworker's birthday when I came across this recipe for Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting. I am a huge fan of the food blog smitten kitchen, in my opinion, it is one of the best food blogs out there. Deb always makes interesting and delicious-looking dishes, and the food photography is just beautiful. I hope that one day when I have more time (and better lighting and a better camera), that I can take pictures and create recipes that are half as good as hers.

Anyway, these cupcakes are fairly easy to put together, you simply sift the dry ingredients together, cream the butter and sugar, add the wet ingredients, then incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. It is a pretty standard recipe for a cake. The cupcake is light and fluffy and Deb recommended cutting the peaches into pretty small pieces, so they wouldn't sink to the bottom of the cupcake. I really appreciated that tip, and the peaches were nicely incorporated throughout the whole cupcake. I typically make a cream cheese icing with just powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. This recipe uses brown sugar as well as powdered sugar. In order to get the icing to set up a bit better, cornstarch is added to the icing.

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 24 cupcakes

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, sour cream or full-fat yogurt (I used low-fat buttermilk)
  • 3 large peaches, peeled, cored, and chopped smallish (about a 1/3-inch dice)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with 24 cupcake wrappers

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and then the vanilla. Gently mix in the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt. Mix in the dry ingredients, until just incorporated and fold in the peaches.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar, breaking up the clumps of brown sugar. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla, beat until frosting is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens back up a bit, about 30 minutes, then spread or dollop on cooled cupcakes.

Notes: These cupcakes were very light, and the little bits of peaches throughout each cupcake is really delicious. I would use this batter again with other fruits like apples, plums, or berries. The brown sugar icing was good, but it didn't add anything to the typical cream cheese icing for me, next time I will stick to my original recipe or add some peach puree to the icing to enhance the peach flavor. I recommend checking out the smitten kitchen blog. It really is one of the best out there.

Also, I had A LOT of frosting left over, to the point that I could have probably halved the recipe and still had enough to frost the cupcakes. I don't like a lot of frosting on my cupcakes, so that is probably why.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Creamy Polenta with Smoked Sausage and Summer Vegetables

My garden is at the point where I am picking many tomatoes and peppers every week, so I wanted to come up with something quick where I could use up a mixture of these vegetables. Based on the ingredients in my pantry, and refrigerator, I came up with this quick meal of cheesy polenta with sauteed vegetables and smoked turkey sausage. This meal came together very quickly, which makes it perfect for a weeknight. The polenta was creamy, and the goat cheese added a nice bite to it. The summer vegetables added a sweetness to balance the cheesy polenta and the salty sausage. This is the first time I tried something like this, but I will be making it again


  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 1/2 oz soft goat cheese

Smoked Sausage and Summer Vegetables:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup diced peppers (I used one Anaheim and one jalapeno pepper, but red or green bell pepper would work as well)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • 8 oz. smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1 inch slices

For the polenta:

Bring the water and salt to a boil, and slowly whisk in the polenta, add the pinch of sugar. Bring the mixture back to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until the polenta is soft and creamy, about 10 to 15 minutes, whisking frequently. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter and goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the smoked sausage and vegetables:

Heat one tablespoon of olive olive over medium heat, then saute the onion and peppers until soft, but not browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and corn and heat through, season lightly with salt and pepper (the smoked sausage and polenta will be salty, so be careful not to over season), about 3-5 minutes more. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add the second table of olive oil to the same pan and cook the smoked sausage until it is browned on both sides, and 5 minutes total. Add the vegetables back to the pan to rewarm them.

To serve: whisk the polenta in case it has started to set up, then divide the polenta into four bowls and top with 1/4 of the sausage/vegetable mixture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie is from Karen of Something Sweet by Karen. She chose for us to bake the Applesauce Spice Bars from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. You can find the recipe here. It is a simple recipe, and the perfect snack to get ready for Fall. I could smell the cinnamon throughout the house while the bars were baking. The only substitutions I made to the recipe is that I used nutmeg and ginger instead of the allspice, since I didn't have any on hand at the time. Also, I left out the raisins because I didn't have them as well. I wouldn't recommend making this recipe all the time because it does have a lot of butter and sugar in it, but every once in a while, it makes a nice treat.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CEiMB: Stuffed Turkey Burgers

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly is from Peggy of Pantry Revisited. She chose for us to make the Stuffed Turkey Burgers from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. This is a pretty simple recipe, in which the burger is stuffed with roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese. I was in the mood for something a little spicier, so I decided to make some changes to the recipe to give it a southwest flavor.

Additions that I made to the ground turkey meat:
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Goya Adobo with cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
juice from 1/2 lime
3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced

I also swapped out the roasted red peppers for some roasted Anaheim peppers from my garden, and used shredded colby jack cheese in place of the mozzarella. Instead of broiling or grilling, I sprayed a pan with non-stick spray and seared the burgers over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each side, then I finished the burgers off in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. The burgers turned out nicely browned, juicy, and cooked all the way through.

These burgers were spicy and had a great flavor. I would definitely make these again. I topped mine with some baby spinach and a juicy tomato. This was a great summer dinner.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons

So after a long hiatus, I am finally back to being able to post another Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. This week's recipe is from Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen. She chose for us to bake the Brownie Buttons from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. You can find the recipe here. This recipe is very simple to put together. You simply melt the chocolate with the butter and sugar, than once it is cool, you stir in the vanilla, egg, and flour. Everything is done in one pot. I didn't have any white chocolate on hand to dip the brownie buttons in like the recipe suggests, but just a sprinkling of powdered sugar worked as well. A nice, tasty, little treat. Too bad I keep wanting to pop a few in my mouth every time I walk in the kitchen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

French Potato Salad

I hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law this weekend, and I wanted to serve a potato salad, but most potato salads are covered in mayonnaise (which I like), but I wanted to keep things a bit lighter because I was preparing a lot of other dishes. I decided to make a French Potato Salad that I saw prepared by the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. The potato salad is dressed with a light vinaigrette and a bunch of fresh herbs. I added some fresh green beans from my garden as well. It is easy to prepare (you can make it the night before you plan on serving it), and it tastes great. If you are in the mood for a different type of potato salad, I highly recommend this one.

French Potato Salad
serves 4 to 6
  • 1 pound small white boiling potatoes, cut into bite size pieces (I used fingerling potatoes)
  • 1 pound small red boiling potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh green beans cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves

Drop the white and red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are still firm, but easily pierced with a fork. In the last five minutes of cooking, add the green beans to the pot so they will cook through as well Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes and green beans to allow them to steam for 5 more minutes. Place in a medium bowl, and toss gently with the chicken stock. Allow the liquid to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.

Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.